Gridline has begun a pilot project in the Cumbrian community of Shap, testing out the use of power-line broadband for consumer and smart-meter services.
The US company announced the trial on Monday, saying it is working alongside Electricity Northwest, Cable and Wireless and T-Systems UK. Gridline said it expected the pilot to be fully up and running by the end of the month.
Power-line broadband involves using electricity lines to transmit broadband signals. The method is generally used within blocks of flats, but Gridline's Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) implementation is intended for longer distances.
"Once completed and validated, the partnership expects to move to a full deployment model addressing approximately 2.5 million meters/structures throughout the Electricity Northwest power grid," Gridline said.
The scheme is one of several being trialled to see how to address the issue of high-speed rural broadband. The village of Shap — notable for a nearby farmhouse where part of the film Withnail & I was shot — is a suitable testbed for such services, as it is in one of the pilot regions for the government's rural broadband drive.
The pilot will also be used to see whether power-line broadband can be used for the communications needs of smart meters. There are several trials going on at the moment, mostly using radio communications, to see how best to hook up the meters and help utility companies better monitor and control their networks.
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